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I'm 32, make $59k annually, live in the rural northeast US, and work in logistics

Preface: please be kind! I am aware that I am “Money Diaries poor”, and by that I mean I’m not living in poverty, but compared to most people here and on R29, I’m doing poorly, especially for my age. I’ve had no financial assistance from my parents/family at any point in my life. I don’t think my life is hard by any means, but I know I’m not doing well.
I apologize in advance for both length and for being vague about some details, I’m terrified of being identified on here. Also, I am extremely boring. Sorry about that.
Section One: Assets & Debt
Equity if you're a homeowner (and how much you put down and how you accumulated that payment): n/a
My husband (32M) and I have joint checking and savings accounts.
Savings account balance: $1720
Checking account balance: $970
Credit card debt: ~$10k. A combination of car repairs and significant healthcare expenses while not having real health insurance. My husband had to have extensive dental work done, and I had some issues with my lower back that I couldn’t ignore anymore and required physical therapy.
Student loan debt: $17k for my BS, which I finished last summer. Husband didn’t go to college.
Section Two: Income
Income Progression:
I was a banquet server and worked at a café during my teens/ early 20s. There were a lot of variables re: how much I took home, and I honestly don't remember now.
First job, 2012, age 23 - $12/hour as an Executive Assistant
Same company, 2013, age 24 – promoted to Account Executive, $14/hour. I did not want this job, but I couldn’t say no to more money.
In 2015, the company I worked for was bought out, and I moved into a different role. It’s pretty specific, so I don’t want to say exactly what it was, but when I left the company in 2017 I made $15.90/hour.
2017, age 28 – purchasing/ logistics for a food supplier, $17/hour.
Early 2018, age 29 – new job in customer service for a manufacturer, $19/hour.
Summer 2018 – new job, $26/hour. I am currently still employed here, and I make $28/hour. Again, I don’t want to be too specific, but my current job is in STEM.
Main Job Monthly Take Home:
$3,250 monthly. ~$75 per week for my super mega bummer health insurance, which I just got this past summer. Includes dental and vision, but doesn’t cover much. Currently no 401k contributions for either of us because our companies don’t offer it.
Husband works part time (~30 hours per week) and takes home between $500-$600 every 2 weeks.
Section Three: Expenses
Rent: We pay $800, our roommate pays $400, for a two bedroom apartment. Note: our roommate just moved in last month. A close friend was in need and we had a spare room, so it worked out for all of us. Ideally I’d like to put the money we're saving on rent toward credit card debt.
Savings contribution: $20/week. I contribute more if I can.
Debt payments: We have two credit cards, one joint card and one that’s just mine (got it before we were together.) The minimum for each card is ~$150. I try to pay more than that, but I am not always able to.
Electric: varies. It’s ~$100-$200ish during the summer when we run the air conditioners, less in the winter.
Heating oil: again, varies. In the winter it’s ~$200-$300 every couple of months or so, but it varies depending on how cold it is and the price of heating oil.
Internet: $75
Cell phones: $160
Subscriptions: $6.99 for Hulu, $15 for Spotify
Gym membership: $50 (for both of us). I usually also pay for my work gym, which is $30 per month, but that’s on hold until I’m back in the office. I know it’s dumb to have two gym memberships, but the convenience of being able to work out during lunch is worth it to me.
Car payment/insurance: My car payment and insurance is $415 total. Husband’s is about the same. I loathe having a car payment, but I’ve never been able to save enough to pay for a car outright without financing, and I’d rather drive a decent, reliable car than a beater that needs repairs constantly – I bought my car 3.5 years ago and it hasn’t needed a single repair (knock on wood!). Yes, we both need cars. There is no reliable public transportation in my area. If there was, I would absolutely be taking advantage of it.
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
No. My parents were open about the fact that they thought college was a waste of money. They both did okay with only high school diplomas, so they didn’t see why I couldn’t do the same. I wasn’t allowed to apply to any colleges, and when I graduated I had the disadvantages still being 17 and also already having a pretty significant amount of financial responsibility. My mothers & stepfather reluctantly allowed me to sign up for community college. I worked full time hours doing banquet serving while I went to school. I couldn’t afford to pursue a Bachelor’s degree when I finished my Associate’s degree, so I found my first full time office job. I completed my BS last summer at age 30, and for that I took out student loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mom made sure I know how to write a check, balance a checkbook, and pay bills while I was in high school, but they didn't talk to me specifically about their own finances. I knew that they had a lot of credit card debt, which was something I'd tried to avoid, but obviously that didn't work out so well for me.
What was your first job and why did you get it? I got a job at a café when I was 16 because my parents wanted to me to start paying rent and for my share of bills and household expenses. I also needed to be able to put gas in my car, pay for car insurance, etc.
Did you worry about money growing up? Not until my parents started asking me for money when I was around 15. After that it was a constant struggle to figure out how to make as much money as I could as quickly as possible.
Do you worry about money now? Constantly.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net? I do not have a safety net, and I’m not sure what I’d consider the age I became financially independent. I’ve been paying bills and my share of rent and other household expenses since I was 16, but that seems young.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain. No.

Day 1 – Friday, October 30
710am: Alarm goes off. I hit snooze.
730am: Alarm goes off again, this time with help from my alarm cats. My husband, who I will refer to as H, goes to take a shower and get ready to leave for work, and I turn on my laptop to start work. After he leaves, I make my usual breakfast (english muffin w/ butter, stok cold brew iced coffee).
830am: I quickly check my gym’s website to see if I can schedule time for today. I would much rather go for a run outside, but it’s raining and snowing basically just kinda shitty outside. I make a reservation for late morning and get back to work.
11am: I take a break from work after a busy morning to brave the snow and hit the gym. I know lots of people will complain about snow in October, but I’m kind of excited to break out my cozy winter sweaters. At the gym I use the indoor rower and do a Stephanie Sanzo Lifting at Home workout via the SWEAT app. I currently have a free trial for SWEAT but I’m seriously considering paying for a year subscription because I like it so much, and because I suspect that I’ll be spending more time in the gym as it gets coldemore winter-y outside.
1215pm: Back home. I shovel our deck stairs and put down salt. Then I check my work email, take care of a few things, and take a quick shower before getting back to work to work for the rest of the afternoon. At some point H texts me to tell me that he made a $10 donation to Biden/Harris. We’ve made several donations over the last couple of months, but I suspect that this’ll be our last one. $10
1pm: I make oatmeal for lunch. As you’ll see, I hate cooking, so most of my meals are kind of sad unless someone else is preparing them. I also decide to get “dressed,” and by dressed I mean I put on a normal sweater instead of a pajama shirt, and a bra. I’ve been working from home since March, and I find that I feel so much more like a productive human when at least my top half is dressed. The bottom half is still perfectly content to remain in sweats or yoga pants all day. 😊
5pm: The afternoon is a blur of work busyness. So glad to be done for the weekend! My group at work had a couple of people out of the office this week, so it was crazy busy, and the next 2 weeks will be the same, so I’m ready to take the weekend to relax and recharge. H and our roommate, B, come home, and we make homemade pizza with cheese, mushroom, and spinach for dinner. After dinner I read and end up finishing my book (All The Light We Cannot See).
12am: For some reason I’m not super tired, which is weird because usually I’m the most tired on Friday nights, especially after a busy week. H and I stay up and talk and hang out, and we turn off the lights for bed around 1230am.
Daily total: $10

Day 2 – Saturday, October 31
750am: I get up with H when his alarm goes off. He gets ready for work. I make his lunch for him, and after he leaves I eat my english muffin and drink coffee, and browse reddit. Not the most productive morning, but whatever.
1140am: I go out for a run. I expect it to be cold because it’s under 40°F, but it’s quite nice. When I finish, I take a nice long shower and eat an Amy’s frozen burrito for lunch.
230pm: I take a quick ride to the library to drop off a book and pick up two books I had on hold.
530pm: H is home from work. We discuss dinner plans with B. I am super craving chinese food and have been for weeks, so I decide to finally indulge and we order takeout. 100% worth it. After dinner I start one of the books I picked up from the library (On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous). $25
730pm: H and I watch a movie (virtually) with friends via Discord. I can't remember the name of the movie. It was supposed to be a scary halloween movie, but it was super low budget and weird. I get bored/ distracted and spend time making playlists on spotify because I have the attention span of a child.
915pm: I eat too many peanut butter cookies, read some more, and go to bed around 11pm.
Daily total: $25

Day 3 – Sunday, November 1
7am: I wake up to pee, then lay back in bed for awhile scrolling through my phone. I don’t use any social media so it’s basically just reddit. Also I somehow forgot about daylight savings and am very confused when I look at the clock.
830am: We get up and make fried dough for breakfast with B because #healthyliving. H has the day off. It’s always nice when we get a day off together. We spend some time this morning cleaning and tidying up the apartment.
230pm: I go drop off our rent check at our landlord’s house (side note, does anyone else have to drop off their checks? I find it super annoying, and everyone else I know who rents tells me that their landlord picks up the check from them). I also go to the grocery store. My list includes but is not limited to: bananas, spinach, broccoli, hot sauce, salad dressing, english muffins, iced tea, diet coke, gatorade, shampoo, and lunch stuff for H. Basically just a general restock of our grocery essentials. $89.80
6pm: We make dinner (chicken cutlets, roasted broccoli, and potatoes). After dinner I read and watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix, and go to bed around 11pm.
Daily total: $89.80

Day 4 – Monday, November 2
715am: I wake up, pour myself an iced coffee, and start my work day. H gets up soon after I do. I make his lunch for him and he goes to work (B goes to work really early, so she’s never home when we wake up). Later in the morning I eat my usual english muffin for breakfast.
130pm: The morning goes by way too fast. Work is super busy. In between work, I do a load of laundry, and load/run the dishwasher. I eat a salad for lunch. No time for exercise today.
630pm: H and B are both home from work. We make panko breaded chicken tenders, rice, and more broccoli for dinner.
10pm: H and I decide to go to bed early - who knows how much sleep we're going to get tomorrow night. I read for a bit before lights out.
Daily total: $0

Day 5 – Tuesday, November 3
630am: holy crap it's election day. I’ve been waiting for today for 4 years. I am anxiety. H and I voted by mail a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t actually have to go vote. My morning is pretty typical – work, coffee, breakfast. Later in the morning, I go for a jog and take a shower.
1230pm: I eat an Amy’s frozen bean, cheese, & rice burrito for lunch and keep working. I’m happy to have the distraction of work today. I briefly considered taking today off, and I'm really glad I didn't. Later in the afternoon, I have a training for work, which takes up a good chunk of the afternoon. At some point today, H puts gas in his car. $28.51
5pm: H is home. Neither of us feel like cooking. One of my weaknesses when it comes to saving money is that I haaaate cooking, so 99% of the time if given the choice I’ll choose to order takeout instead of going to the grocery store and cooking at home. I’m working on it. Tonight, though, we get fast food. $21.57
1030pm: We decide not to stare at the news all night and go to bed. I take two tylenol PM and fall asleep pretty easily.
Daily total: $50.08

Day 6 – Wednesday, November 4
7am: I expect to wake up to Donald Trump remaining as president for the next 4 years, but I am very pleasantly surprised. I try not to feel too hopeful and go about my morning as usual.
11am: I go for a jog, shower, and make oatmeal for lunch. Super exciting, I know. H is off work today, and we periodically chat about everything going on. It's nice having company (other than my cats) while I work.
1pm: H gets a phone call from work – the company he’s worked at for the last 2 years is closing due to COVID. They'll be closed for good by the end of 2020. Finances will be tight, but he'll be able to collect, and hopefully he'll find a decent full time position.
6pm: B comes home in the early afternoon, and we all make paninis for dinner. I put turkey, cheese, and pesto on mine. It comes out sooo good.
1030pm: I stay up later than I planned to stress eating snacks and reading. I finish my book go to bed around midnight.
Daily total: $0

Day 7 – Thursday, November 5
715am: Wake up and immediately check election results. No change. Sigh. I do my usual routine - work, coffee, breakfast.
1030am: I go for my run, shower, and get back to work. It's really busy and honestly I don't have the time or mental capacity to worry about anything else while I'm working, which is kind of nice right now.
4pm: I go to the grocery store to restock on some stuff, and stop at the library again to pick up some books (contact free). $52.41
9pm: Typical evening - dinner, reading, stalking election results. Bedtime around 11pm.
Daily total: $52.41

Weekly totals: $227.29
Food & drink: $188.78
Transport: $28.51
Home & health: $0
Clothes & beauty: $0
Fun & entertainment: $0
Other: $10

Reflections: This was a pretty typical week. I was boring before COVID, and COVID has somehow made me even more boring. I've lost touch with the few friends I had over the last few months, which sucks, and making friends as an adult was already hard, I can't imagine how it's going to be now. I've never had an active social life because I'm extremely introverted and have always preferred books and pets over (most) people, and left to my own devices I could probably go weeks without seeing anyone other than my husband and be okay with it. Money wise, I have a lot of work to do, and if I think about it too much I feel really ashamed and stressed and upset, so I try to maintain a level of worry about my finances that doesn't keep me up at night but also isn't too relaxed. Thanks for reading. :)
submitted by icequeenicecream to MoneyDiariesACTIVE


Behind the scenes of a teeny, tiny freelance business - Revenues, profits, and advice

My business is tiny, and I don't really call myself an entrepreneur (I'm a freelancer). Nevertheless, I thought it might be interesting for other small business owners to see behind the scenes of an established freelance business. I hope it allows for some helpful comparison for other established freelancers, and as inspiration for those starting out that freelancing can provide a reasonable income.
These facts and figures are for 2019, prior to COVID. I’ll post 2020 figures next year, but I’m currently projecting our income and profits for 2020 will be about 20% - 25% lower as a result of COVID (hence why an emergency budget is so important).
First, a little history. My wife and I have been running a freelance business for the last 14 years. Until 2016, we focused purely on proofreading and copy editing. In 2016, I decided to add freelance writing to what we offered, mainly to diversify revenue streams. Between 2016 and 2019, we managed to up our revenue each year, both due to taking on more work and raising rates. We work exclusively from home.

Here's an overview of how we did in 2019, starting with the financials. All figures are approximate, rounded, and shown in US dollars.

Total revenue: $146K

  • Revenue from proofreading / editing: $25K
  • Revenue from freelance writing: $120K
  • Revenue per day from writing: $500
  • Revenue per day from editing: $100

* Total revenue per day: $600

Total business expenses (excl taxes): $24K

  • Health insurance premiums: $11K
  • Accounting fees: $3K (I had some complex tax matters that I resolved in 2019, fees are for that and EOY filings)
  • Computer software and subscriptions etc: $2K (SaaS subscriptions, web hosting, etc)
  • Bank and credit card charges: $2K
  • Office costs: $2K
  • Business donations to charity: $1K
  • Internet and phone: $1K

* Other expenses: $2K

Total profits (pre-tax): $122K

Taxes (payroll / self employment, federal, state): c. $33K

Take Home Pay after Taxes: $89K, $7.5K a month

Living Expenses: $4.5K a month, $55K a year

  • We have paid off our mortgage and don’t carry debt.
  • We don't have kids, which significantly reduces our expenses.

* We do have “emergency” savings to cover six months of expenses.

Disposable Income: $3.3K a month, 39K a year

  • We spend 20% - 30% of this on charitable donations, larger projects, and fun stuff.

* 70% - 80% of this disposable income is invested over the medium to long term, mainly in retirement accounts. Only 15 years away from retirement and need to build those funds up!

2019 Revenue by Major Clients

  • Currency exchange business: $30K
  • Marketing agency for business formation: $26K
  • Fiverr Pro freelance platform: $19K
  • Marketing agency for cybersecurity and other clients: $14K
  • Marketing agency for SaaS: $12K
  • Supply chain business: $10K

* Ecommerce marketplace: $8K

Lessons learned

  • Diversification - Diversify among niches and clients as much as is reasonably possible. Don’t rely on one particular client for the majority of your income. Needless to say, the currency exchange business that was my biggest client in 2019 has not used me at all since March 2020, due to COVID. I definitely recommend multiple revenue streams for any freelancer, so you can protect your income.
  • Independence - The only freelance platform that we use is Fiverr Pro which we were invited to join. Fiverr Pro is for professionally priced freelance services, so we can charge as much on there as we do for off-platform work. We haven’t used other freelance platforms like Upwork or Freelancer.
  • Specialization - A narrow focus on specific niches and topics was key to success. On the proofreading / copy editing side, that means non-fiction, medical, and training. On the writing side, that means tech, business, and finance. Specializing means you can often charge more, and helps you get work in the first place.
  • Confidence - If you’re good at what you do, have the confidence to ask for higher rates. My B2B clients are happy to pay my rates for the level of service they get. The ideal position to be in as a freelancer is that you set the rates, not the clients.
  • Pricing - We always price by the project or per word - That works much better for our clients than hourly pricing. Additionally, if you can work fast and maintain quality, that often results in higher per hour fees. For example, if you can write a 1,500 word blog post for $200 in 90 minutes, that's an hourly fee of $125. Additionally, I started writing at 10c a word and slowly increased the rate every year, until the c. 35c a word I am on now. That feels like a sweet spot for my current level of expertise, and works for clients.
  • Automation and efficiency - Automation is really important. Less time spent on admin means more time that's chargeable to clients. Key efficiencies for us include IFTTT for scanning job boards and emailing leads, Zapier for transferring information between online services, FreeAgent for accounting, invoicing, expenses, payroll etc, TickTIck for project and task management, and Google Docs for working with clients.
  • Finances - It's really, really important to stay on top of finances, so you can see where you're making money, your key expenses, your financial outlook etc. We also have around six months of household expenses as an "emergency budget" which definitely helps our peace-of-mind!
  • Professionalism - This is vital. Presenting yourself as a professional businessperson, with confidence and poise is vital. In other words, it's not just about the work itself, it's about everything around that. Good communications, suggestions to the client, getting contracts in place, always meeting deadlines, following up - It all makes a difference.
  • Clients - Do everything you can to find regular clients. One of the biggest time sucks for a freelancer is seeking out new leads and applying to them. If you can get clients who use you on a regular basis, that's good for your bank balance, and for reducing time you spend looking for new gigs. For me, the revelation was marketing agencies, who find clients for you!
  • Finding leads: Find a lead generation tool that works for you. Much of my lead generation came to applying for very specialist jobs through job boards that I was highly qualified for. In 2020, I completely rebuilt my website and portfolio to concentrate solely on inbound leads, and get between 3 and 5 serious inquiries a month.
  • Work and life balance - Through all of this, it's important to keep a good work and life balance, especially in times of COVID!
  • Puppies - Pets are a wonder for freelancers. Perfect for the breaks you take, the love you share, and the need to get out and take them for walks (at least for dogs and wombats.) They're great for mental and physical health.
That’s it! I hope you’ve found this helpful and illuminating. Please let me know your thoughts, and I am happy to answer any questions.
submitted by paul_caspian to Entrepreneur